When I was a kid and, therefore, really stupid, I thought the bottom of the earth contained the land masses closest to hell. You see, I also was raised Catholic and had zany ideas about hell, and for some reason I assumed it was at the bottom of the planet. Sorry, South Pole. Now I’m older and know better (mostly), but for some reason I keep rethinking this theory as it pertains to metal.
Australia is toward the bottom of the planet, and considering the infernal death and black metal that has poured like tire fire smoke from that continent in the past decade, my child brain may have been onto something. Bands such as Portal, Impetuous Ritual, Mournful Congregation, Grave Upheaval, and Ill Omen all call that place home, and two of those bands boast members of Temple Nightside, whose terror-inducing new slab “The Hecatomb” is about to burst and cover everything you own in soot. Their brand of ashen death metal rumbles deep within the guts of the Earth, feeling like a bizarre, mysterious force snaking through the ground, coming to the surface every now and again to swallow bodies whole.
“The Hecatomb” follows the band’s 2013 debut full-length “Condemnation,” released by Nuclear Winter Records, though now the band is on the stellar and terrifying roster of Iron Bonehead. The band—guitarist/bassist/vocalist IV (Ill Omen, Nazxul), guitarist BR (Grave Upheaval), bassist V. Kusabs (Terror Oath, Vassafor), and drummer Mordance (Paroxysmal Descent, Vesicant)—increased in membership from two to four since their last effort, and now they’re here scraping the Earth with their sharpened scythes, looking for anything ahead of it capable of bleeding. At the same time, there is an eerie chill to the sound, as their work rattles like a coiled snake hissing in a corner, threatening to strike at any moment with zero warning. This stuff is ugly, savage, and the epitome of a suffocating nightmare from which you can’t wake yourself.
“Graven” kicks off the record described as a “slow descent into hell” with morbid guitar work that sounds exactly like that description. The growls settle in, and as they are during most of the record, they’re delivered in a whispery haze. The song is ugly and grimy, disorienting at times, especially with some of the riffs and warbled lines, and at the end of the track, we have a spiral of dizzying guitars. “Adrift in Sepulchral Entropy” is fast and filthy, with creaked growls, soloing going off, and dark creepiness. At the final minute, drums rumble hard, and ghostly vocals chill the bones. “Ossuary (Commune 3.1)” is the first of three interlude cuts, this one built on ambiance, and then it’s into “Fortress of Burden and Distress” that has a soupy, doomy start. The pace trudges at mid-tempo, while buried growls terrify, and hellish chaos is achieved. Detached singing floats, while the pace slithers along, and the track is pulled into a vortex.
“The Murderous Victor (Commune 3.2)” is the longest of the interlude tracks, this time with drums rolling over the land, spacey chants spilling, and ghoulish transmissions such as, “I am the great destroyer,” poking into your flesh. “Within the Arms of Nothingness” churns slowly, with pained moans emanating, and the pace grinding along. Weird speaking gets into your bloodstream, while harsh growls follow, the smudgy pace smears dirt, and a burst of ugliness pushes to the end. “Tempest” lets loose flesh-mangling guitars, as whispers and gasps inject a sense of anxiety, and then the song opens in earnest. The vocals terrify, while the band pounds away heavily, guitars catch fire, and wails push the track into the distance. “Burial Adoration (Commune 3.3)” is the final interlude, a brief burst of haunting noise that paves the way for 9:16 closer “Charnel Winds.” Growls tear a hole in the thing, with the guitars burning, and a torturous tempo causing vertigo. The track slows its assault, slowly meting out punishment, feeling like a melodic funeral doom dirge. Devastating slowness dominates, with the cut finally fading into a pool of misery.
Temple Nightside’s fury and scariness is as thick and powerful as ever before, and they take a bloody step into the gooey earth on “The Hecatomb.” They feel like they’re dragging you into eternal damnation, forcing you to see every terrifying sight along the way, ruthlessly bouncing your flesh and bones across the ground. They’re a deadly unit, one that’s larger and more formidable now, and their mighty bloodthirst is one that doesn’t sound like it’ll soon be quenched.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/templenightsidenecromancy/
To buy the album, go here: http://shop.ironbonehead.de/en/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.ironbonehead.de/